There is no comic book relationship as well-known or misinterpreted as the bond shared between the Joker and Harley Quinn. Despite the fandom that has rallied around their coupling, the history of the Joker and Harley Quinn is a strange, twisted, and startlingly violent tale. Even in a medium that is notoriously sexist, Joker and Harley give the term “toxic relationship” a whole new definition.
Looking back on all the times the Joker abused Harley Quinn, one might mistake the demented clown’s actions as typically morbid; after all, when isn’t the Joker acting like an unhinged killer? However, the character often takes his villainy to new heights when he’s with Harley, resulting in scenes that are ugly in a manner that feels far too real for comics.
As the popularity of both characters continues to rise, it’s important to look back at some of their relationship’s darkest moments. While the duo certainly makes for a fun set of Halloween costumes, this isn’t the type of romance you want to emulate.
Joker Locks Harley In A Prison Filled With The Corpses Of "The 'Other' Harleys"
After shackling Harley to a grimy prison wall, the Joker proceeds to delight in physically and mentally torturing her for hours on end. To make things worse, the Joker populated the cell with the bodies of several other victims, all of whom are dressed and styled identically to Harley.
Not exactly how one imagines a romantic getaway.
Joker Abandons Harley While She Is Pregnant
One of the few glimpses into Harley’s damaged psyche comes during an intimate conversation with Black Canary. Here, the reader learns that Harley was at one point pregnant with the Joker’s baby, and that he knowingly abandons her for the entirety of her pregnancy. After Harley gave birth to her daughter Lucy, the child was sent to live with Harley’s sister.
Joker Pushes Harley Into A Vat Of Chemicals
In her first and largest act of devotion, Harley allows herself to be thrown into a vat of chemicals, changing her in the same way that Joker was once transformed. As was the case with Joker, exposure to the chemicals causes Harley to become increasingly unhinged. After experiencing this fate himself, it’s truly sickening to see Joker doom the woman he loves to the same fate.
Joker Offers Harley Up As A Volcanic Sacrifice
After finishing their vows, it is revealed that The Joker has agreed — behind Harley’s back — to let the island’s natives sacrifice her in the volcano. So much for their twisted happily ever after.
Joker Threatens To Cut Harley's Face Off
Due to his constant paranoia regarding Harley’s allegiance to him, it’s not uncommon for the Joker to force Harley to renew her loyalty through some gruesome or abusive challenge. However, when the Joker says that he’s going to have to literally cut Harley’s face off, she’s understandably a bit hesitant to agree.
To make things (arguably) worse, Joker doesn’t even end up going through with the act. Instead, he just throws a hood over Harley’s head and walks away, leaving her to cower indefinitely in fear.
Joker Plans To Execute Harley In Front Of Batman
With this in mind, it doesn’t come as much of a shock to find out that, at some point during Grant Morrison’s run on Batman, the Joker plans to surprise Batman by killing Harley Quinn right in front of him. The plan horrifies both Batman and Harley, though it’s not enough to end the relationship, much to the dismay of comic book fans everywhere.
Joker Throws Harley To A Pack Of Hyenas On Their Anniversary
Unfortunately for Harley, The Joker isn’t in a “party mood,” and responds to her gift by throwing her into an alley packed with hungry hyenas. In case that wasn’t enough, the Joker also takes a moment to insult the taste of the pudding, and calls Harley a “bad cook.”
Joker Throws Harley Out A Window When She Tries To Help With His Work
When the Joker decides to feed Batman to a vat full of starving piranhas, Harley tries her best to make that the plan goes off without a hitch. To expedite Batman’s death — and to bring to life Joker’s plan, titled “The Death of 100 Smiles” — Harley hangs the Dark Knight upside down over a piranha-filled vat.
When Joker finds out that Harley altered one of his plans without his permission, he hits her with a swordfish, jettisoning her out of a window.
Joker Locks Harley In A Rocket Headed For Outer Space
In Batman: Harley Quinn, the Joker tries to break things off by putting some distance between himself and Harley. To achieve this, he straps her inside of a space-bound rocket, fully expecting her to die. Luckily, Harley manages to escape this fate, and goes on to have a brief rebound with Poison Ivy.
Joker Turns Harley Into A Constellation
Well, that’s exactly what occurs in the Emperor Joker comic. Joker tricks Mr. Mxyzptlk into transferring over all of his powers, and, mindbogglingly, the first thing the clown decides to do is kill Harley Quinn and turn her into a constellation in the sky.